Marco Arment posted some commentary to Matt Gemmell’s The Unacknowledged Compromise. While I’m not sure I disagree with much that was posted by the two gentlemen, the footnote added by Marco rubbed me the wrong way.
If you can’t afford both an iPad and a laptop, and you’re technically proficient enough to enjoy my site, you probably shouldn’t get an iPad at all.
You’d probably be better served getting a laptop (as your only computer) first, a smartphone second, and maybe an e-ink Kindle if you want a bigger screen for portable reading.
A lot of what he wrote is true, but I think it definitely underestimates just how much better something like an iPad can be for traveling.
It isn’t just the size of the device, or the fact that it doesn’t have a hinge, or the fact that the accessories are so much smaller for the iPad (compare a MacBook power adapter to the iPad charger). Those are all things in the iPad’s favor.
It is how you pack that changes when you move from a laptop to a tablet. A tablet is something you can add to any bag without needing to bring anything extra along. You limit the amount of stuff you need to bring along to be productive. I have my iPad mini in a case so, along with the power adapter, that’s all I need to bring along and I’m set. I can toss that into any bag that I might bring along on a trip or just carry it sans a bag.
That’s a big shift.
With a laptop I bring along a power adapter, an extension cord for the power adapter (because if you hang that power adapter on a wall it is going to take up too much space), a mouse, an external hard drive with my “work”, another power adapter for my phone … you see where I’m going.
I had forgotten about that. The same charger for my iPad can double as a charger for my iPhone. That doesn’t even bring into account the idea that I can have LTE connectivity built into my iPad so that I am completely untethered. Those are big wins.
The reason we need laptops and desktops right now is because almost every single workflow we have right now is built around laptops, desktops, windowed operating systems, etc. OF COURSE they’d be easier to do on those devices, it only makes sense.
However, let’s not think that it will always be this way or even that it needs to be right now. Already email is easier for me to handle on an iPad or iPhone than on my desktop and media is easier to deal with on those devices as well. More and more we are going to see (here’s that word again) a stratification of tasks, workflows, and devices based on what they are best at.
I will state that we are not there yet and things are just STARTING to happen, but there is no way we are going to know what to do if we don’t try to push the boundaries a little bit. Pushing the boundaries can sometimes be annoying at first, but that is the only way to truly find the pain points.
This isn’t just about iPads and iPhones and MacBooks … but about the general tension between the mobile devices we are seeing now and the general computing devices many of us are used to from the past.